The 9th Age/Tactics/Vampire Covenant
- 1 Tactics
- 2 Unit Analysis
- 3 Magic Items
The tactics are currents as of second edition.
Two things of note if you want to play Vampire Covenant:
1: Everything you have is undead, learn how unstable works now or your games will take forever.
2: VC is considered in some circles the most powerful army in T9A, be prepared for skub.
Reanimated An additional attribute on all of your units (shortened Rea), determines the number of wounds raised with Arise! (H spell) and The Dead Arise (bound spell).
Master of Undeath One character in your army must be designated the Master, at the beginning of the game the Master is always your general, even if they wouldn't normally be allowed to (see Ashes to Ashes).
Ashes to Ashes At the end of any phase in which the Master is removed as a casualty your army starts to crumble. At the end of the turn a new Master may be selected as long as the character is A: a wizard and B: is vampiric or is using evocation. If there is no new master your army continues to crumble.
Gates of the Netherworld whenever a model with this rule successfully casts the H spell it may additionally raise 1 wound on any unit/model within 12". Flexible and is a great means of keeping characters alive by effectively doubling their healing.
Awaken (x) A model with this rule can raise models beyond a unit's starting size for unit types listed with this special rule. A unit cannot increase more than double its starting size or beyond its maximum size as listed in its unit entry.
Necromantic Aura Friendly units within 6" of a model with this rule reduce health loss from unstable and Ashes to Ashes by 1. Not a huge buff, but can effect many units and will make them that much more sustainable. I've seen zombie hordes survive at one zombie because of this.
The Dead Arise A bound spell (4/8) that allows you to create an entirely new unit of undead, but only ones that the model has Awaken (x) for. Being able to create a roadblock whenever and wherever you need one is great. The only model in your army that will have this will be your general.
Ghostly Form Models gain magic attacks and ghost step. Units with ghostly form cannot be joined by characters without it.
Autonomous entirely autonomous units may march even outside of a friendly commanding presence. Allows your scary flankers to get deep despite being undead.
Reaper A unit where every model has this special rule can move through other units in the movement phase. If they do so, they make a sweeping attack with 1 hit per reaping model at str 5 AP 10. A nice way to whittle down enemy bricks before they can flank your zombie blocks.
Vampiric (x) at the end of each melee phase, if at least one attack by a vampiric model caused an unsaved wound, roll a d6. If the result is equal to or greater than the amount listed (x) they regain 1 health. 1s always fail, 6s always succeed. Not usually enough to rely on to sustain a character, but saves you some additional healing here and there.
Unholy Appetite If one attack with unholy appetite causes an unsaved wound, all attacks with unholy appetite reroll failed to hit rolls for one turn.
Arise! For each target, either raise R&F models equal to their Rea value or one character in the targeted unit raises health according to its Rea value. Boosted versions create bubbles of reanimation that can be consistently cast on 3 dice for the chunkiest version. This spell is also repeatable, so if you have the points to spare have every single wizard that can have this spell.
You may choose to have your army represent a single bloodline of vampires, if so all vampire counts and courtiers must be upgraded with the corresponding bloodline. A bloodline gives you access to the ancient blood power of the respective bloodline and blood ties to a specific unit. Blood powers are not bloodlines. Only a bloodline army can take the respective ancient blood power (0-1 per army). An independent army can take any blood power with a 0-1 limit per army, a bloodline army can only take their respective blood powers but can repeat them any number of times. Functionally, you're only going to have 1 or maybe 2 vampires in your army, so go ahead and take the bloodline you want, it will give you some increased flexibility and some crazy buffs for certain units. Blood ties are mentioned in their respective unit entries.
Brotherhood of the Dragon Bloodline
The vampire gains weapon master, +2 off skill, plate armor, and may purchase any number of melee weapons. This comes at the cost of the vampire being capped in their wizarding and forcing them to issue/accept duels unless another model does so first. Only can take Occultism path
Ancient Blood Power: Crimson Rage For each unsaved wound this vampire inflicts in melee it attacks again at the same initiative step against the same target(s). Your vampire will slam here and there and everywhere.
Blood Power: Eternal Duelist reroll to-hit and to-wound rolls of 1 in close combat.
Blood Power: Monster Hunter Multiple wounds (2 against towering presence). Not as good as some other monster hunters out there, but if your opponent loves their dragon accept no substitutes.
Von Karnstein Bloodline
The vampire rerolls failed vampiric rolls, adds +1 to their sides combat score, gives their unit autonomous, and increases the range of their commanding presence or rally around the flag by 6". Only can take Evocation or Occultism (no change to baseline)
Ancient Blood Power: Storm Caller All units within 12" of the vampire gain hard target (1). Shooting is the bane of your existence and now it's harder to mow down your hordes before they can make it into melee.
Blood Power: Hour of the Wolf the vampire's unit gains swiftstride and Awaken (zombies, dire wolves, bat swarms, and great bats).
Blood Power: Unbreakable Will At the beginning of each round of combat select a single unit within the same combat as this vampire, they gain stubborn. Stubborn makes it take twice as long for a unit to crumble, use it to make them hold enemies in place for those flanks.
The Catlike seducer
The vampire loses 1 attack but gains lightning reflexes, enemy units in base contact suffer -1 agility, and as long as the vampire doesn't have heavy armor or a shield it gains distracting. Duels issued by this vampire must be accepted and enemies in a duel suffer -1 attack (but not their mount, careful dueling a dragon). Only can take Evocation or Witchcraft path
- Takes a penalty to attack but are suited for assassinating characters. Brotherhood of the Dragon may get better armour but it's at the cost of magic, while Lamia doesn't and they can force that Skaven hero to face his death.
Ancient Blood Power: Commandment R&F models in a unit joined by this vampire set their offensive and defensive skill to 6. Your zombies just got competent.
Blood Power: Mask of Innocence Enemy units in base contact suffer -1 discipline. It helps you crack large units.
Blood Power: Mesmerizing Gaze Can cast Whispers of the Veil as a bound spell (4/8). Can cripple critical units, if it doesn't get dispelled.
The vampire gains hatred, fortitude (4+), and +1 health, but cannot be mounted except on a shrieking horror, cannot equip any armor, and caps wizarding ability but is a Shamanism. Turns your vampire into a beatstick.
Ancient Blood Power: Ghoul Lord The vampire, it's a mount, and all models in its unit gain poisoned attacks. If they already had poison attacks, the poison triggers on 1 better (5+ instead of 6+ usually).
Blood Power: Flying Horror on foot only, gains fly (7/14), light troops, swiftstride, and storm of wings. Turns your vampire into a (relatively) fast character hunter. Only do this if you're confident it can survive getting a shot at.
Blood Power: Bestial Bulk on foot only, max 1 per army. The vampire is put on a larger base, is now large(gets stomp), and +1 resilience, but cannot take any weapon enchantments or armor.
The vampire suffers -1 attack, -2 offensive skill, cannot be equipped with heavy armor or a shield, but gains Awaken (zombies, skeletons), gates of the netherworld, and must be upgraded to the best wizard level available to the vampire. Always knows the H spell in addition to its other spells. Essentially makes a Vampire Necromancer. Only can take Cosmology, Evocation, or Occultism
Ancient Blood Power: Blood Magic Choose a path, the spellcasting values for that path is reduced by 2 but suffers a +1 miscast modifier.
Blood Power: Arcane Knowledge Knows the H spell in addition to its other spells. +6" range to all spells (+3" aura spells). Bound spells and spells with range caster or caster's unit are not affected.
Blood Power: Forbidden Path choose 2 paths available to the vampire, a master is adept in both paths and an adept is an apprentice in both paths. Worse than Essence of a Free mind, but is also 35 points cheaper.
Vampire Count Top 3 best characters in the game. Debates erupt if its better or worse than the Chosen Lord of WDG, vampires have better access to regaining wounds, but WDG have more murder options and their army doesn't crumble if he dies. High Res, high Str, a stupid number of attacks and incredibly fast for a model on foot. Making it a wizard apprentice is free and you should always do at least that if just for spamming your H spell. Vampire counts are expensive, 330 points of expensive, and you will be dumping more into them to tailor them to your needs and pump their defenses (they have no save of any kind vanilla). Expect to dump 450+ points into your count, but they are hard to take down and will make their points back in murder and reanimations.
Vampire Courtier Only a minor reduction in stats from the count for less than half the price. Same as the count though, you will be dumping a lot of points into giving them defenses and tailoring them to your needs. Can be a BSB, but you don't really need one being an undead army, just put the points into making them a wizard apprentice (is cheaper anyways) and spam the H spell, it's better value for you.
Necromancer Your cheapest vanilla character, but you will be putting spending at least 200 points on him so you can have a functioning spellcaster. Your access to alchemy, which is a good answer to high armor enemies and some great buffs to your hordes, but be aware if you choose alchemy that necromancer cannot become the Master if your general bites the dust.
Barrow King Can be your BSB and functions mainly as a bodyguard for your necromancer. Only bother with one of these if you have a Necromancer general, you'll want one to take shots for them. Otherwise, just get Grave Guard for the same vanilla price and you'll get better value out of them.
Fell Wraith a little ghost assassin. A decent number of attacks at meh strength but AP 10. Only bother with the great weapon if your opponent is only high res models, will help you crack elite units or duel other characters.
Banshee Trash attacks, but can cry at enemies? Hard pass. The only upside is it can be used as a short ranged shooting attack, but even then you should rely on your positioning and not waste points on a banshee.
Skeletal Steed quick and a nice armor boost. Gives your character ghost step so they can roll with barrow knights if you want. You have better mounts for your vampires, but for necromancers or barrow kings it's a good speed and survivability boost.
Spectral Steed Same as the skeletal version, but -1 armor but can fly at the same speed as well. Don't bother, Ghost Step is just as good as fly and it isn't worth the points.
Cadaver Wagon Necromancer only. Provides a great buff to all units nearby, core units get a fortitude 5+, non core get 6+, and ghasts get pumped up to 4+. It's great to have one, taking it here or in the special section is really up to you to how spooked you are about putting your necromancer onto the frontlines.
Court of the Damned Your other support platform, A large buffing to your offense. Enemy units nearby suffer -2 agility and Defense, against standard agility armies now your skeletons are hitting first and can make all the difference.
- Blood Ties: Lamia Must get aegis 4+ for a lot of points. If you can you want it.
Shrieking Horror Only available to Strigoi Counts. Will pump your HP and Res a lot, but has no armour besides Fortitude 5+. It makes up for this by being a monster in combat, but you'll need to spam magic to keep it alive.
Monstrous Revenant Will buff up your HP and Res a bit, but you take it for the attacks with poisoned attacks and lethal strike. It is a great force multiplier, but you won't be able to hide the character and expect them to get pewed at.
Zombie Dragon Count only. Not as killy as the horror, but with incredible defenses. 4+ armor, Fortitude 6+, and distracting. A great option, but it will cost you as much as another Count.
Colossal Zombie Dragon: for 100 more points, Zombie Dragon Can be made tankier. will cost you as much as another equipped Count.
minimum tax decreased to 20% in an Independent Army
Zombies Making their stats any worse would only make them worse in the abstract. Why take them then? Only 5 Base + 6 points a model and a rea value of 2d6+4. Only bother taking units of 40 zombies at most, all characters that are spellcasters have awakened (zombies) and can get zombies up to their max size of 80 in 4 casts of the H spell (on average). That said, 40 is still a lot of zombies and is unlikely to crumble early on, but if you're worried (facing dwarfs) take as many ablative hits as you need, 5 points a model. A musician can be a nice upgrade, making it easier to maneuver your giant horde of zombies, the standard bearer is nice because it's just -1 to crumbling in combat.
Skeletons +1 to def skill, off skill, and agility on zombies and +30 base + double the points. On top of that they get decent armor and parry, but a lower rea of 1d6+4. Keep the parry if you want an unmoveable brick, take spears if you want them to do things in melee. Halberds can be scary but tend to be lackluster on a model that tends to not hit things. Max unit size of 60 models, their armor will help them survive.
Ghouls The best stats of your core (not saying much). 2 attacks a base with poison attacks is pretty good for Base 125 for 10+ 17 points/model. They have an option for a champion, which is all you need, more attacks and gives them Swift Reform like a musician. Take 21 models (7x3) to maximize their base contact and give them enough ablative wounds that you can consistently reanimate them back up to full combat strength for each combat. Be careful as their only defense is res 4.
- Blood Ties: Strigoi Max of 35 models per army may gain vanguard. A strigoi vampire joined to this unit also gains vanguard. If you have it, take it. Ghouls in melee are where you need them and this does that.
Bat Swarms Pitiful defenses but 4 health per base and some decent debuffs to enemy units in base contact. Take a unit or 2 to roadblock and chaff for your big blocks, but don't expect them to do anything on their own.
Dire Wolves Large units count towards core. Essentially fast skeletons. But unlike skeletons, they will likely be out of range of your reanimation casters. Take a unit or two to threaten flanks and control the movement phase, but don't expect them to survive the first 2 turns.
Great Bats Like Dire Wolves but can fly, making them more flexible in their field positioning, but don't count towards core ever. Use them as chaff and flankers to control the movement phase, but don't expect them to live through the game.
Ghasts Ghouls big ugly cousin. Larger ghouls with better strength, more attacks, are large infantry so stomp and all attacks can be made when supporting and got a fortitude save. They make up for this with a pitiful rea value (only 3 health raised per cast on average), but same as ghouls, get them into combat and they will do work.
Barrow Guard Stronger skeletons that got stronger, magical attacks, lethal strike, and multiple wounds (2) vs everything. They also get bodyguards for your general or for barrow kings, which will halve the wounds they get from losing combat, but with a character in there, it is unlikely they will lose combat in the first place. A good value unit, you will be spending more points on them to get them the equipment they need and support them with magic to make them effective in combat and reanimations. Be careful with them, they have slightly better defenses than other units but make up for this with a lower rea value (only 6 on average).
Barrow Knights Same fabulous offense as above but now with a 2+ armor save. Keep them near your casters so you can keep them at full strength, but this fabulous unit is scary to fight with how durable they are and their lethal strike+multiple wounds.
Cadaver Wagon It boosts the defenses of nearby units with a fortitude save especially if its a core unit. Not too shabby itself, a 5+/4++, but don't think you can run it alone. Its only offense is the zombies pulling it, put it in a unit to keep it safe. Makes your Skellis and Zombies better tarpits.
Dark Coach Your other slam chariot and is one of the best chariots in the game. A great blend of attacks, all of them with great AP, allows it to crack any unit it hits. A 3+/4++ and Vampiric 3+ ensures it will survive almost any grind it gets in. Autonomous and ghost step allows it to get into any position on the battlefield. It'll cost you an arm and a leg, but as long as it isn't bogged down it will do work.
- Blood Ties: Von Karnstein must take stubborn for a pittance. Halves the wounds it takes from losing combat, so if it gets stuck in a grind it has a good chance of coming out on top.
Court of the Damned the more offensive cadaver wagon. Debuffs enemy units in base contact and has vampiric to give it some self-sustainability. As above, stick it in a unit to take hits for it.
- Blood Ties: Lamia must get aegis 4+. If you can, you want it.
Altar of Undeath A big ghost chariot for slamming. It has the bound spell pentagram of pain, which can chunk some hits on units, and slams out 8 attacks from the ghost horsies. But its big thing is the aura of undeath, each shooting phase it attacks all enemy units within 12" (even those in melee) and hits d6 times, AP 2, and strength equal to the game turn number. Situational, but can make the difference in the right place.
Phantom Host little ghost swarms. A decent amount of average attacks, but you take them for the aegis 2+ vs mundane attacks (only 5+ against magic attacks). Use them the same way you would bat swarms, roadblock charge lanes to deny the flanks of your big blocks. Be careful because with undead and unstable they can still lose combats from combat resolution and their sad rea value of 1 means they cannot be effectively sustained. Don't put them into big combats, just block flankers and light troops and you should be fine.
Wraiths A scary unit. 2 attacks per model at AP 10 means they can crack any elite infantry or cavalry. The reaper rule and their options for wizard spells (they have conclave too, nice) make them very versatile and flexible. Be aware that your opponent will want to kill them quickly and their nutty aegis save is entirely nullified if your opponent has the right spells.
- Blood Ties: Nosferatu may upgrade one model to a champion. Gets more HP onto the unit and more spells, but is expensive, as in you could almost get another unit of these for the champion. The additional channel could be worth it to fuel your magic phases.
Spectral Hunters mostly the same as above but on ghost horses and Fire attacks. Take a unit of these and run them at the enemy lines while the rest of your army can approach at their leisure.
- Blood Ties: Nosferatu may upgrade one model to a champion. Same benefits and issues as above, but is nice to have some magical support for your independent unit.
Your Vampire hammers and primary damage dealers.
Vampire Knights These are simply put, the best standard cavalry in the game. Not as fast as elves, but with 2 HP, res 4, Arm 2+, 2 easy ways to raise wounds, and 2 attacks a base are wild. Also why they're about more than 80 points a model. They are str 5 by default and have a lance so they will destroy anything on the charge. Don't let them get bogged down by monster tar pits, but besides that, they can charge anything to the face and win. The opinion is split on whether these or barrow knights are better cavalry. Barrow knights are easier to raise wounds on, but the vampire knights are better dump trucks.
- Blood Ties: Brotherhood of the Dragon Plate armor and +1 attack on the charge. Take it. Gets you to that sweet 1+ armor save and 3 str 7 AP 4 attacks per base on the charge is too good to pass up.
Vampire Spawn The Flying hammers and the fastest. Flying Vampiric beasts, Res 4 is the only thing keeping them alive, but with their speed, they need to be on the flank and threatening before they get shot out of the sky.
Varkolak The Monster hammer and the tankiest of the bunch. Fortitude 4+ and Vampiric 3+ will keep him going as long as he is in melee. He is also autonomous and very fast, let him get deep into enemy lines and watch them part to avoid him.
Winged Reapers The Exicutionalary hammer units. It comes in small units (max size 4 models) and for good reason. 4 HP a base that Strike about as hard as a Vampire + Lethal Strike, with Res 5 and a 5+ save is their only defenses, but Necromantic aura should sustain them a bit. You will need to spam the H spell on them to keep them up and running. They are your slowest hammer, keep that in mind if you want to use them.
Shrieking Horror Your first of 4 dedicated hammers. 6 hp, 6 Res, and fortitude 6+ it's a relatively fragile monster. It is quick and chilling shriek makes it scary to have one of these looking at you. It can yell in melee or as a short-ranged shooting attack. Str 10 and AP 10, but wounds based on discipline instead of res, but that is usually better. The only downside is the number of hits it inflicts is equal to its remaining HP, so as your opponent guns it down it will be less and less effective.
Reaper's Harvest Str 10 AP 10 and divine attacks but wounds against discipline instead of resilience. A great weapon, will destroy anything you throw it at.
True Thirst +1 to str and AP and sets the vampire's vampiric ability to 3+. In addition to healing themselves better, successful wounds raise wounds in the wielder's unit (that unit can just be the vampire and it's mount). A great weapon that exponentially increases the sustaining ability of your vampire.
Legend of the Black King +1 armor and aegis 4+. This is all you need out of armor and covers all the defensive needs of your vampire.
Black Standard of Zagvozd Barrow Guard/Knights only. They get +1 to hit in combat. If the bearer isn't in combat, they may choose a barrow guard/knight unit nearby that is in combat to get the +1. A flexible standard and helps your elite skelingtons get those hits they need to proc lethal strike.
Hypnotic Pendant the bearer gains distracting and R&F models in it's unit gain parry. Now your zombie horde takes forever to mulch through.
Eternity Gem Attacks with Lethal Strike or multiple wounds lose those abilities when attacking the bearer. Additionally, you get an aegis 2+ vs the first wound of the game. If you're looking at cannons, this is the way to go.
Necromantic Staff The bearer gains channel (1) and can cast the 6" aura H spell as a bound spell (4/8). This does not prevent you from additionally casting the H spell if the same model knows it. A great way to boost your magic phase and pump more models into units.
Night's Crown Strength boosts from weapons are not applied when attacking the bearer (not AP though) and close combat attacks can never wound the bearer on better than 4+. Not for facing ogres or high strength models, you want this against elves to cancel out their elite infantry.
Unholy Tome Can cast Danse Macabre as a bound spell (4/8). A good way to add a speed boost to your otherwise slow units.
Cursed Medallion Before the game starts, choose a single model of your opponent's army, the bearer rerolls failed to-hit and to-wound rolls against that model. Depends on what your enemy brings to the table, but being able to dunk on a dwarf king for 35 points is great.
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